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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Short Story "Light Is Like Water"

Gabriel García Márquez died yesterday at age 87 at home in Mexico City; he was a genius and a magician, and we are lucky to have his work so lucent in the canon, the crystallization of a genre whose influence spreads so far beyond literature, compressing and exploding so much of human instinct and power and need. Here's his Paris Review Art of Fiction interview ("The trouble is that many people believe that I’m a writer of fantastic fiction, when actually I’m a very realistic person and write what I believe is the true socialist realism"), and a very short story that I love painfully, called "Light Is Like Water." It's about two little brothers and a boat, and it's tiny and simple and a perfect piece of alchemy.

On Wednesday night, like every Wednesday, their parents went to the cinema. The boys, lords and masters of the house, closed the doors and windows and then broke the bulb glowing in one of the living-room lamps. A jet of golden light as cool as water began to pour out of the broken bulb, and they let it run to a depth of almost three feet.

Do you have a favorite? Let me know.



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Brendan O'Connor@facebook

"That was how they came to hold the most splendid funeral they could ever conceive of for an abandoned drowned man. Some women who had gone to get flowers in the neighboring villages returned with other women who could not believe what they had been told, and those women went back for more flowers when they saw the dead man, and they brought more and more until there were so many flowers and so many people that it was hard to walk about. At the final moment it pained them to return him to the waters as an orphan and they chose a father and mother from among the best people, and aunts and uncles and cousins, so that through him all the inhabitants of the village became kinsmen. Some sailors who heard the weeping from a distance went off course and people heard of one who had himself tied to the mainmast, remembering ancient fables about sirens. While they fought for the privilege of carrying him on their shoulders along the steep escarpment by the cliffs, men and women became aware for the first time of the desolation of their streets, the dryness of their courtyards, the narrowness of their dreams as they faced the splendor and beauty of their drowned man. They let him go without an anchor so that he could come back if he wished and whenever he wished, and they all held their breath for the fraction of centuries the body took to fall into the abyss. They did not need to look at one another to realize that they were no longer all present, that they would never be. But they also knew that everything would be different from then on, that their houses would have wider doors, higher ceilings, and stronger floors so that Esteban's memory could go everywhere without bumping into beams and so that no one in the future would dare whisper the big boob finally died, too bad, the handsome fool has finally died, because they were going to paint their house fronts gay colors to make Esteban's memory eternal and they were going to break their backs digging for springs among the stones and planting flowers on the cliffs so that in future years at dawn the passengers on great liners would awaken, suffocated by the smell of gardens on the high seas, and the captain would have to come down from the bridge in his dress uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star, and his row of war medals and, pointing to the promontory of roses on the horizon, he would say in fourteen languages, look there, where the wind is so peaceful now that it's gone to sleep beneath the beds, over there, where the sun's so bright that the sunflowers don't know which way to turn, yes, over there, that's Esteban's village."

j-i-a

@Brendan O'Connor@facebook BRENDAN ahhhhhhhh omg

Mariajoseh

@Brendan O'Connor@facebook "El ahogado más hermoso del mundo"! It's also my favorite GGM short story. And my favorite novel is 100 years... because it is just a masterpice. I really recommend his journalism too. The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor is a good place to start.

Mariajoseh

@Mariajoseh also, I read a lot of anglosaxon literature, but García Márquez always makes me love Spanish in a way no other writer does. He really had a way with our lenguage.

Statham

That story is beautiful. It kind of made me feel warm inside. I write, but I don't think I could ever compose a piece as short, sweet, and beautiful as this.

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